Opening doors and building capacity: Employing a community-based approach to surveying

Sue A. Kaplan, Keri Nicole Dillman, Neil S. Calman, John Billings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although many community-based initiatives employ community residents to undertake door-to-door surveys as a form of community mobilization or for purposes of needs assessment or evaluation, very little has been published on the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. This article discusses our experience in undertaking such a survey in collaboration with a coalition of community-based organizations (CBOs) in the South Bronx, New York. Although resource constraints limited the already-strained capacity of the CBOs to provide supervision, the CBOs and community surveyors helped us gain access to neighborhood buildings and to individuals who might otherwise have been inaccessible. The survey process also contributed to the coalition's community outreach efforts and helped to link the CBO leadership and staff more closely to the coalition and its mission. Many of the surveyors enhanced their knowledge and skills in ways that have since benefited them or the coalition directly. The participating CBOs continue to be deeply engaged in the coalition's work, and many of the surveyors are active as community health advocates and have taken leadership roles within the coalition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Community engagement
  • Community-based research
  • Participatory research
  • Public health partnerships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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